Showing 1-17 of 17 results tagged “Commentary Tracks”

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Seven hours after voting closed, we’ve published the Drunken Commentary Track for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia — and the movie’s three hours long.

In reality, the gestation period of this commentary track was seven years. The movie has been digested slowly, primarily with Magnolia and Meaning” and then through an eight-hour class I led.

Further exploration took place with the essays “Why Are There Frogs Falling from the Sky?” and “The Blossom: Jim Kurring.”

Magnolia continues to surprise me, and my feelings and thoughts on it are still evolving. It’s not done with me yet.

'Halloween': The robotic maniacWith Rob Zombie’s remake in theaters this weekend, I thought it would be a good opportunity to explore why Michael Myers (or “The Shape”) worked so well in John Carpenter’s 1978 movie Halloween.

In this commentary track, part of Culture Snob’s Five Minutes series, I use the movie’s ending to discuss the transformation of Michael Myers from troubled child into bogeyman — from human to supernatural.

'Hour of the Wolf': Keeping the darkness at bay, one match at a timeThe deaths last week of movie writers and directors Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni have incited all sorts of commentary about the “art” films of yesteryear and the people who made them.

Tied up in these discussions is one key assumption: that everyday people think these movies are boring, whether they’ve actually seen them or not. “Boring” is a reaction separate from claiming something is “good” or “bad,” of course, but it’s almost more important. If something bores a viewer, it becomes irredeemably irrelevant. So people arguing for the importance of Bergman and Antonioni must first make their movies sexy.

Chwistian! Ewan McGregor Works It in 'Moulin Rouge'I’ll keep this brief: If you’ve seen it, chances are excellent that you either love or loathe Moulin Rouge. But have you ever spent the time to really figure out why?

In this Drunken Commentary Track, Culture Snob and River Cities’ Reader film critic Mike Schulz argue about Baz Luhrmann’s paean to love.

'Perfume': The nose knowsThe contradictions of director/co-writer/composer Tom Tykwer’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer start in the title, with the onomatopoeic softness and ether of a single word paired with a morbid, blunt descriptive subtitle.

Both components are drawn from the novel by Patrick Süskind, but the associations that pile up and pull at each other during the movie’s opening scenes are equally Tykwer’s, cinematic and lovingly ambiguous. The main character is introduced by his nose emerging from the darkness, deeply but measuredly drawing in all that the air carries. There’s something refined in the control of the gesture, yet it recalls vermin assessing its surroundings. Normal humans treat smell as a secondary sense.

And ... cut! The final shot of 'The Sopranos'Have you calmed down yet?

Are you over the orgasmic delight you felt at the way David Chase defied all predictions about the end of his beloved series, The Sopranos? Have you recovered from your rage about ambiguity, a lack of closure, and Journey?


Now let’s clear a few things up. Tony Soprano did not die. That last scene was not at all a cinematic expression of Tony’s anxiety, and therefore David Chase did jab his middle fingers into your eyes. Yet there was nothing wrong with the way it ended, even if it was manipulative.

In this “Five Minutes” audio commentary, Culture Snob will explain all that and more, without abruptly cutting to silence mid-sentence.

'The Wire': McNutty and Bunk on the caseIn honor of the final episode of The Sopranos, Culture Snob takes a look at five minutes from The Wire — a show that probably wouldn’t exist were it not for that crime family from Jersey.

This brief audio commentary — part of the “Five Minutes” series — looks at one scene from The Wire’s first season. In these five minutes, the only dialogue that passes between Baltimore Police detectives Bunk and McNulty are variations on the word “fuck” and one utterance of “pow,” but the audience pieces together how this particular murder went down through visual storytelling and acting devoid of meaningful words.

'Pan's Labyrinth': Head to head with the penisIn a previous entry, I noted the disconnect between Guillermo del Toro’s assertion that Pan’s Labyrinth is “not about sexual identity” and the movie’s marketing materials and design.

In this short audio commentary (part of Culture Snob’s Five Minutes series), we look at the toad scene in the movie to undercut the writer/director’s claim even more. Pan’s Labyrinth is very much about sexual identity, particularly a woman’s reproductive power over a man.

Five Minutes: JFK


'JFK': Don't trust what you can't seeWhen we say that a movie is more style than substance, we typically mean it derisively.

Oliver Stone’s JFK has a ton of stuff — with the director’s cut running nearly three and a half hours — that was mistaken for its substance. But the meat of the movie is its style, because it’s the fuel that made the film so combustible.

The movie was greeted with contentious debate upon its release in 1991, but Stone’s critics and supporters completely missed the boat by arguing about facts, theories, and cover-ups. JFK works not as an argument but as a style of argument — sly and forceful in equal measure — and an exemplar of contemporary propaganda.

Truman Burbank: Into the wildThere’s a maxim that says a movie teaches you how to watch it, but Peter Weir’s The Truman Show teaches you how to watch it the wrong way. And in its brazen audience cues, it hints that you should question your reaction to the film. This is a movie that was made for misunderstanding.

Bryce Dallas Howard: strategically naked in 'Lady in the Water'We understand why a studio would give M. Night Shyamalan the benefit of a doubt, with even the much-maligned The Village grossing more than $100 million in the U.S.

We understand that audiences might be willing to take a chance on the writer/director who burst onto the scene with The Sixth Sense and made an unexpectedly thoughtful and human superhero movie with Unbreakable.

And we understand that Syamalan believes that his shit stinks not, and that he further thinks those bowel movements represent a new form of artistic expression.

But why oh why did I assent to River Cities’ Reader film critic Mike Schulz’s inebriated suggestion that we record a commentary track for Lady in the Water?

'The Prestige': Tesla provides enlightenmentThe reasons for recording (with Bride of Culture Snob) this commentary track to The Prestige are many and simple:

  • Director/co-writer Christopher Nolan didn’t include one on the first DVD release — at least not that I’ve found.
  • In my essay, I faulted the movie’s ending, but I now accept it as suitable and even necessary.
  • There remains great confusion and debate about what actually happens in the movie, even though the script and presentation seem to me models of clarity and foreshadowing.
  • Bride of Culture Snob and I continue to argue about the conclusion, and whether it fits or panders to an audience’s anticipated inability to follow the story.
  • While it received generally favorable notices, The Prestige seemed to be dismissed as a mere entertainment, and I think critics and audiences failed to recognize the movie’s depth, density, and elegance.

We address all these areas in the commentary track, come to some resolution about the ending, and explore my theory that viewers tend to understand one of the movie’s “tricks” while watching the first time but get fooled by the other.

Juliette Binoche co-stars with a color in 'Three Colors: Blue'As part of the Krzysztof Kieslowski Blog-a-thon at Quiet Bubble, Culture Snob recorded a commentary track for Three Colors: Blue, with some assistance from Bride of Culture Snob.

The commentary track deals with a handful of themes: the blunt use of color contrasted with the almost tangential way the movie deals with its ostensible theme of liberty; the use of visual and aural cues to indicate the subjective nature of the film; Julie’s progression from isolation to active engagement with the world; and the relationship between the concept of “freedom” and Kieslowski’s obvious interest in responsibility. Plus, I call Juliette Binoche a “two-faced bitch.” How can you resist?

This entry also includes a short essay dealing only with Blue’s first shot, inspired by Jim Emerson’s Opening Shots Project.

Do you see what I see? Shauna Macdonald and friends in 'The Descent'Neil Marshall’s The Descent approaches being a perfect terror movie. And because terror is unique to cinema among art forms — it doesn’t translate well to the page because the narrative has to slow down for the reader, and it doesn’t translate at all to any other medium — The Descent approaches being a perfect movie, period. (Commentary track features Culture Snob and Bride of Culture Snob.)

Michael Karnow (left), Zak Penn (center), and Werner Herzog in 'Incident at Loch Ness'Werner Herzog once ate his shoe, so why wouldn’t he chase the Loch Ness monster?

What’s a little harder to swallow is that the famously idiosyncratic German director — who pulled a boat over a mountain for 1982’s Fitzcarraldo — would team up with Zak Penn, a Hollywood hack who has written such gems as PCU, Inspector Gadget, and Elektra. Yet that’s what happens in Incident at Loch Ness, a 2004 movie that documents their collaboration.

After choosing I ♥ Huckabees for the second in the Culture Snob “Drunken Commentary Track” series, I can confirm that my thoughts on the movie are less than cogent. You, dear reader/listener, can now hear long, awkward silences and extended digressions as Culture Snob, Bride of Culture Snob, Bad Dog Ginger, and River Cities’ Reader film critic Mike Schulz try to say something of value about the movie. Click to download the audio file (mp3 format, roughly 24 megabytes, 107 minutes), which is intended to be listened to while watching the movie.

A real-time discussion of Billy Ray’s 2003 movie about New Republic faker Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen) and his editor (Peter Sarsgaard). This commentary track is meant to be listened to while watching the movie. The audio file (mp3 format, roughly 16 megabytes, 94 minutes) features Culture Snob joined by River Cities’ Reader film critic Mike Schulz, with important contributions from Bride of Culture Snob, and at least one interjection from Bad Dog Ginger. Click to download.